Maria’s Benefit demonstrated why she is held in high regard by trainer Stuart Edmunds after earning a step back up in class with victory in the feature race at Ludlow.

The five-year-old, who finished down the field in a Grade Two bumper at Aintree on her final start last season, completed a hat-trick of wins for the campaign in the Alfa Aggregates Products Mares’ Handicap Hurdle.

Taking matters up after the second flight, the even-money favourite held runner-up Late Night Lilly at bay by seven lengths.

Edmunds said: “She is a nice filly and I think back down in mares’ company she made them look quite ordinary.

“I did say to Ciaran (Gethings) see if you can drop her in, but they didn’t go fast enough. I hate being one-dimensional, but she just gallops. She has got raw speed and a change of gear.

“She will go to Taunton for the Listed mares’ novice on December 29, as she will get in that without any penalties.”

Dr Richard Newland, trainer of Audacious Plan.Dr Richard Newland, trainer of Audacious Plan (David Davies/PA)

Dreams of an outing in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown moved a step nearer for Audacious Plan following his victory in the Corrie Cup Handicap Chase.

The eight-year-old landed the hat-trick after backing up wins Huntingdon and last time out in the Durham National at Sedgefield in the extended three-mile-one prize.

Having travelled well throughout, the Dr Richard Newland-trained 5-2 favourite showed a willing resolve to master Relentless Dreamer by a length and a quarter.

Newland said: “We were not quite sure dropping back in trip would suit him, but he handled it very easily and Brian Hughes was very happy with him. He is a super jumper and stays well.

“That was a qualifier for the Challenger Series at Haydock. The race I have got in mind is the bet365 at Sandown, but we will have a look at Haydock first.

“He will have a little holiday now, as we think he prefers better ground.”

needs three more winners to reach a centuryHarry Skelton, who needs three more winners to reach a century (David Davies/PA)

Harry Skelton moved on to the 97-winner mark for the season after guiding Royal Beekeeper (11-8) to glory by nine lengths in the Racing UK Club Day Today Novices’ Claiming Hurdle for his brother, trainer Dan.

The Tom Gretton-trained Western Climate (8-1) made his first start over fences a winning one when registering a surprise length-and-three-quarter success in the Rowles Fine Art Novices’ Chase.